A MAN who attacked a paramedic and left him with life-changing injuries has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Cemlyn Hughes, of Manod, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker, and was given an 11-week custodial sentence suspended for a year at Caernarfon Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
The 29-year-old was also ordered to abstain from alcohol for 120 days and pay £500 compensation to his victim, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Dylan Lloyd Davies.
Paramedic Dylan was called to reports a man had been stabbed in Blaenau Ffestiniog in December, but on entering the property, found the defendant to be uncooperative.
In the presence of North Wales Police, Hughes launched a physical attack on Dylan, leaving him with a serious shoulder injury which meant he has been unable to work ever since.
Dylan, 45, recalls: “The initial report we had was that a man had been stabbed six times, but when we got there, there wasn’t a lot of blood.
“We were trying to understand what had happened to the man and make a scene assessment but he turned aggressive, and shouted to be left alone.
“He squared up to me so I put my hand out to create some space, but at that point he rugby tackled me across the room, physically lifting me off my feet.
“When I tried to defend myself, we both fell on top of the metal bed frame, him landing on top of me.
“I’ve been doing this job for a long time and you get a sixth sense when something is about to go wrong, but I didn’t get that here which is the frightening thing.
“I didn’t feel threatened at all until it was too late.”
Police arrested Hughes, but it was only later into his shift that Dylan realised he had sustained a serious injury.
He said: “Between the shock and the adrenaline, I felt fine initially.
“I went back to station to report it and de-brief with my colleagues, then while we were on the way to the next call, I realised I couldn’t lift my arm.
“Ten months on and I’m in as much pain now as I was in day one.”
Doctors suspect that Dylan has torn a piece of cartilage in his shoulder, but the results of an MRI scan he had last week will confirm definitively.
If it is a significant tear, he will require surgery to fix it – but if not, he will continue with physiotherapy until he has regained his strength and mobility.
Dylan, who has been working from home on alternate duties since the attack, said: “My frustration on a scale of 1-10 is eleven, to be honest.
“Paramedicine is the job I’ve been doing for 17 years, and this split-second act by one man means I can no longer do that – I can’t help people.
“My partner Kirstie is an Emergency Medical Technician so I hear first-hand how stretched the service is, and you’re desperate to play your part but you can’t.
“The nature of our work means you sometimes come to expect aggression from members of the public – but it doesn’t mean you should stand for it.”
In May, the Welsh Ambulance Service launched its milestone new With Us, Not Against Us campaign in response to a rise in assaults on emergency workers in Wales.
More than 4,240 assaults were committed emergency workers, including police, fire and ambulance crews, in the period April 2019 – November 2020, representing a monthly average increase from 202 in 2019 to 222 in 2020, or 10%.
Assaults ranged from kicking, punching and head-butting, to spitting, biting and verbal abuse.
The Trust’s Chief Executive Jason Killens said: “Our ambulance crews are there to help people, but they can’t fight for someone’s life if they’re fighting for theirs.
“Our crews might have no choice but to leave a scene if their personal safety is compromised, and this isn’t helpful for anyone, least of all the patient.
“A split-second act of violence can have a devastating and long-term impact on our staff, both physically and emotionally.
“The debt of gratitude we owe to our emergency workers has never been greater, so now more than ever, we’re asking the public to work with us, not against us.”